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Florida Congresswoman Gets Sworn In to Seat After Winning Special Election By a Landslide, But Republican Opponent Still Won’t Concede

U.S. Rep. Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick was sworn in as the first Black woman to represent the predominantly Democratic 20th District in Florida on Tuesday, but her Republican opponent she defeated by a landslide the week before, still has not conceded the race.

Cherfilus-McCormick won the special election for the 20th District on Jan. 11, securing 78.7 percent of the vote over Jason Mariner’s 19.6 percent. However, Mariner won’t concede the election and has filed a lawsuit alleging ballot issues.

U.S. Rep. Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick (left), Jason Mariner (right) Credit: Wiki Commons/Video screenshot

Mariner pointed to media bias in election coverage the day after his defeat.

“People are supposed to have a fair shake at choosing governance,” Mariner told reporters in a video posted on his campaign Facebook page. “That didn’t get that in this race because the media was so slanted and biased.”

Cherfilus-McCormick fills the seat left vacant by the late Democratic U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings, who had held the seat since 2013. Hastings died of pancreatic cancer in April. Cherfilus-McCormick will serve the rest of Hastings’ term for the district that cover parts of Broward and Palm Beach Counties.

Despite losing the election, Mariner posted a video the following day with a trio of Black voters vocalizing their support for him.

“I’ve just begun to fight. Rock-N-Roll, America,” Mariner wrote in the caption.

Mariner has received criticism from both sides for his refusal to concede. Some have compared Mariner’s move to fellow Republican former President Donald Trump’s resistance to his November 2020 loss to President Joe Biden. 

Although he conceded to Biden in Jan. 7, 2021, two months after the election and the day after the Capitol riot, he still claims that his reelection bid was stolen. Trump, the most influential figure in the Republican Party, claims the country’s voting system is “flawed.”

Trump and his campaign and followers have filed over five dozen lawsuits challenging the election, hoping to overturn the results based on unfounded claims of voting fraud and inconsistencies.

Since the elections, Republicans in several states have pushed legislation to address “election integrity.” A recent Washington Post report found that “at least 163 Republicans who have embraced Trump’s false claims are running for statewide positions that would give them authority over the administration of elections.”

Mariner told reporters last Wednesday, “we’ll also have some stuff coming out that we’ve recently discovered,” but his campaign has not released further details.

Cherfilus-McCormick’s win increases the Democrats’ advantage in the U.S. House to 222-212. She will have to fight for reelection again in the state’s August primary election. Mariner said last Wednesday he would be pursuing the seat again.

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